Those of you who know me know that I’m not a big reader. That is, I’m not a big reader anymore. When I was a kid I was a voracious reader who was usually more than content to spend all of a rainy day on the inside of a good book. I wasn’t a deep reader–I read a lot of westerns, a lot of action/adventure, and more than my share of the mysteries of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift Jr., and Trixie Belden. My first foray into fantasy was an obscure book called Brill and the Dragators–the first book in a series called “The Exitorn Adventures.” The Chronicles of Narnia came next, and I eventually made it to Middle Earth–at which point I started reading college textbooks and traded ‘reading for fun’ for the Internet.
I first became acquainted with Andrew Peterson’s music in 1997 when he was opening for Caedmon’s Call. To say that I’ve been an avid fan of his music ever since would be an understatement–rabid might be slightly more accurate. Andrew’s masterful song lyrics have been the standard I’ve tried to reach in my pursuit of the craft of songwriting, and have, at the same time, been a comfort and companion to me on the twisty and bendy journey of life these past ten years.
Needless to say, when I heard that Andrew was writing a novel I was excited. When the chance came to receive and review an advance copy, I jumped. I read the book in an evening, and it took me back to my childhood–back to those lazy, rainy afternoons and long quiet nights under the blanket in my cold bedroom. It took me back to the days before all-night web surfing and before long hours in the recording studio. It took me back to the life I lived before I began the one I’m living now.
Thinking back to the story, and the experience of reading it, I’m surprised at the disconnect from the Andrew Peterson that I’ve known through the music. Andrew can say more in a short line than many writers can say in an entire song, and can say more in a song than many have said in entire books. In a way, I was expecting this from “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.” It is no criticism to say that I didn’t find it. I didn’t find intensely profound thoughts and statements in each line, or deep lessons buried in a parable. What I did find was an intensely enjoyable experience–fun for the sake of fun; something I rarely experience anymore. Several times I found myself laughing out loud at some ridiculous bit of trivia or at a footnote that only made the situation at hand more absurd. Those who know me well know that I rarely laugh–so laughing out loud while reading a book in a quiet room is a big deal.
In spite of all the fun, there are lessons to be mined from the characters, the conversations, and the spirit of this story. I loved the undercurrent of family loyalty the ran so strongly through the book, as well as the tug of an inner longing for freedom from an oppressed people that had become outwardly content in their captivity. There are many parallels to be drawn from the story, and I’m sure that there is much more that will be discovered as I read the book again–which I am looking forward to doing.
The bottom line is this: Sometimes there is something more important than the long to-do list. Sometimes we just need to do something fun for no good reason. Sometimes we just need to relax, kick up our feet and read a good book. I’m glad I finally did so.
“On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness” releases today, March 18, and should be available wherever fine stories of adventure and/or toothy cows are sold. I would encourage all of you to buy it, make a warm cup of your favorite hot beverage, and curl up under a blanket for a few fun filled hours. You won’t regret it!
PS – I have a copy of “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness” that I’ll be awarding to one lucky person who comments to this post with a comment that doesn’t involve credit reports, shady pharmaceuticals, and any sort of advice on how to do ‘grown-up stuff’ better than ever before. So post a comment and tell your friends!